After suffering the loss of her unborn baby at seven months pregnant, Hanne-Ma Hansrud – more commonly known as @middelsstrikk (‘mediocre knits’) – set up her Instagram account. As an antidote to the ‘always happy, drinking coffee at 10am on a Wednesday and knitting’ kind of community, she aimed to portray her sometimes frustrating relationship with knitting. Today, she is the creator of the immensely popular The Bullet Journal for Knitters.
“I started knitting three years ago. The reason I started was because I was pregnant – like 90% of pregnant women in this country do, it seems. I was knitting a lot of baby clothes, but then I got to the seventh month of pregnancy and he died in the womb,” she says. “Then I stopped.”
Hanne-Ma explains that her pregnancy loss isn’t a secret she’s kept, but it’s also not something she’s written publicly about before. “When I started knitting again, about a month later, it was the best therapy in the world. That’s when I set up my Instagram account. I was signed off work and life was pretty crap, but I needed something to do. It’s limited how many times you can tidy the flat,” she explains.
She felt that everyone in the online community were called something with a happy connotation. “Everyone sat there on a Wednesday morning at 10am with their cups of coffee – everything was so perfect. Everything just seemed so easy – and I was over here, unable to knit a damn thing,” she laughs. “I just made mistakes and sat here in frustration, and my husband Jørgen said ‘you should make an Instagram account and call it ‘middelsstrikk’ (‘mediocre knits’). Just write down everything you do wrong’.” And that’s exactly what she did.
Hanne-Ma is keen to highlight exactly how poor her knitting was to begin with. “I mean, I was the absolute worst at textiles and knitting in school – even the teacher commented on it,” laughs Hanne-Ma. “I feel like my learning curve was incredibly steep – I went from not being able to knit anything at all to suddenly managing quite a lot.”
She carried on knitting baby clothes for a long time due to the speed at which she felt she could knit them, but the very first project for herself was the Mary jumper from @Knitsandpieces. She was surprised by how easy it actually was, and two years later, she has knitted somewhere between 15 and 17 jumpers for herself. “When you start, it’s hard to stop,” she says.
The Bullet Journal
Around 18 months ago, her husband started up his own business – Talor&Jørgen – a coffee roastery in Oslo. “He suddenly had a bit of an unstable job, which meant I became the sugarmama in the family,” she jokingly says. “So he said that as soon as his business was up and running, he’d buy me an iPad with the drawing function as a thank you for supporting him,” says Hanne-Ma.
Her iPad from Jørgen arrived this autumn, and with a love for lists in all different shapes and forms, she started drawing them onto the iPad. “I’ve always made a lot of knitting lists – any type of list, really. I’ve also shared some of them on Snapchat which have been very well received,” she says. “Originally, I started drawing on my iPad to make my own knitting book. I thought – ‘I could get it printed’, and after a while, I felt like it looked really good. I showed it to some of my friends who knit, and they said I should think about printing it and selling it.”
At first, she thought she’d be quite daring and order 50 copies. “I made a video where I drew it and it had a great response on Instagram. Then I ordered 200 copies about three or four weeks ago, and it was sold out in a few hours. It was totally mad – I still can’t believe it,” she says.
The demand soon became so big that she decided to run an ‘open shop’ for a whole week, and decided she would print as many copies as people ordered. In the end, over 900 bought the journal. “I’m completely blown away, it’s really amazing and I’ve loved doing it,” she adds.
Overwhelmed with the response, she has decided to create another book for herself next year – but perhaps this time, she will be a bit more prepared to sell it on. “I have a job as well, so I don’t have that much time,” says Hanne-Ma, who on a day-to-day basis works as a coordinator in an IVF fertility clinic, which she describes as her dream job.
A sense of achievement
Hanne-Ma believes that the sense of achievement knitting creates is partly to blame for the increasing popularity of knitting over the past few years. “I believe in hobbies that take a bit of time – it’s nice to be able to do it. So much of our lives go past so quickly, so there’s something positive in taking three or four weeks to finish a jumper.
“It’s a hobby that calms you down, and something everyone can do if they want to. Science shows that it lowers your pulse – due to the repetitiveness. I think it’s good for mind, body and soul – to just sit and let your arms do the work,” she adds.
Hanne-Ma’s two best tips
- The gauge swatch. “I never knit it myself, but I should – I think it’s a really good idea. I knitted a mitten the other day – it was going to fit me, but it really doesn’t, my fingers are just poking through it. When I first started, I didn’t understand that there was a difference between yarn and needles. It could say Number 3 needle, but I’d just use a 4 and not realise there was a difference. What I do now, is that I start knitting my garment, but measure out a gauge swatch as quickly as I can. If it’s way off, I start over, but if it’s just a little bit different, I adapt it. I like getting started.”
- Knit something you want to knit. “Even if you’re a beginner or pro – knit something you really want to do. You’ll get there in the end – it can take time, but it’s better to do that, than to knit something easy that you don’t even want,” she adds.
If you missed out on The Bullet Journal for Knitters, Warunee from Plystre has reserved a few copies, which will be available in her online shop soon. Keep your eyes peeled.
To keep updated on the latest interviews and stories from the Scandi knitting community, follow us on Instagram @knitlikeanorwegian.